When Adidas compares TV advertising to the fax – should we all listen?

Marketing Week Magazine has this week reported on the fact that the snappily titled Adidas “global head of digital ecosystem design” David Greenfield, has compared TV advertising to the fax. Clearly a damming and unwelcome comparison for TV advertising, but is it a viewpoint that all marketers should listen to?

According to Thinkbox (the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK), TV advertising revenue in the UK totalled £5.27 billion in 2015, up 7.4% on 2014. This is the sixth consecutive year that TV advertising revenue has grown in the UK. Forecasts suggest however that digital advertising will overtake TV advertising for the first time in 2017.

TV viewing figures are also on the up, with first half of 2016 figures showing that commercial TV viewing on TV sets had increased for individuals, ABC1 adults and 16-34s.

Yes, the TV market and the way in which we consume media means that audiences are fragmented, but this has also brought TV advertising into the reach of many brands that could not have otherwise considered it. The fragmentation has enabled talented media types to really focus targeting on the desired audience and technological innovation means personalised ads are becoming a reality.

David Greenfield though didn’t hold back with his views – “Of course TV still has a place but the fax machine still has a place too and I’m not about to create a fax machine marketing strategy. Digital is the most relevant channel for our audience.” This viewpoint led the brand to concentrate its spend on social media marketing rather than TV.

Does TV advertising still have a place? I would suggest the answer to this is yes, but it will have to continue fight a rearguard action and innovate to mimic further the targeting and measurement capabilities of digital marketing. TV can be great for brand awareness and direct response, but will always be innaccessible for many and struggle to match the flexibility and speed of movement possible with digital marketing.

We live in interesting times when it comes to the options available to businesses and their marketing budgets. The basic fundamentals do not change though. Any Marketing will struggle unless you are clear on who is your target audience and what your proposition is. Businesses can also improve the chances of making the right choices by making sure that they have the measurements in place to understand where business is coming from. Anyone in need of a fax marketing strategy? Perhaps not.

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